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Do not underestimate the dangers of drowsy driving

Most people do not tend to think of drowsiness as something that can pose danger. They certainly do not place sleepiness into the same category as drug or alcohol impairment.

However, missing a night's sleep can have the same effects as a 0.1 percent BAC, noticeably over the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Less severe sleep deprivation can even affect driving skills and increase the danger to yourself and others on the road.

Dangerous effects of drowsiness

Missing out on as few as a couple of hours of sleep can bring on some serious effects. You may experience a lack of alertness, slowed reaction times, fuzzy thinking and inability to concentrate. A higher level of drowsiness can result in periodically blanking out and eventually falling asleep. Examining the scene of a drowsy driving accident often reveals the driver did not attempt to avoid it, most likely due to the above symptoms.

Statistics may lowball the real rates of drowsy driving

It is hard to know the exact statistics about drowsy driving. Unlike for alcohol or drugs, there is no handy chemical test to measure levels. Many times, first responders know drowsy driving was involved only because the driver stated so. However, this may cause underreporting, as many people tend not to realize their drowsiness affected them.

Who is more likely to drive when drowsy

People at increased risk of drowsy driving include shift workers, people with children and business travelers. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can also result in sleep deficiencies. In the latter case, a person may think he or she is getting the appropriate hours of sleep yet feel unrested.

What you ingest can affect your levels of sleepiness

Many types of medications, as well as even small amounts of alcohol, can cause or greatly increase drowsiness. While your doctor or the medicine label may tell you of these side effects, you should avoid driving shortly after taking a new medication or an adjusted dosage, even in the absence of warnings, as side effects can vary greatly.

Drowsy driving may be a form of negligence

Avoiding drowsy driving can reduce the likelihood of causing a crash. However, even the safest driver cannot always avoid an accident when another person's negligence is involved. If you sustain injuries in a car accident, consult an experienced lawyer to figure out your options.

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